In a scattering problem, the main objective is solving the Schrödinger equation


where H is the total Hamiltonian of the scattering system in the center of momentum, K is the kinetic energy and V is the potential energy. We seek for a solution \psi,

\displaystyle \psi_{k}^{+}(r)=e^{i\vec{k}\cdot \vec{r}}+f(\theta)\frac{e^{ikr}}{kr}

The solution can be decomposed

\displaystyle \psi_{k}^{+}(r)=R_{l}(k,r)Y_{lm}(\theta,\phi)=\frac{u_{l}(k,r)}{kr}Y_{lm}(\theta,\phi)

The solution of u_{l}(k,r) can be solve by Runge-Kutta method on the pdf

\displaystyle \left(\frac{d^2}{d\rho^2} + 1 - \frac{l(l+1)}{\rho^2} \right)u_{l}(k,\rho)=U(\rho)u_{l}(k,\rho)

where \rho=kr, k=\sqrt{2\mu E}/\hbar, \mu=(m_1+m_2)/(m_1 m_2) and U=V/E.

For U = 0, the solution of u_l is

\displaystyle u_{l}(k,r)=\hat{j}_l(\rho) \xrightarrow{r\rightarrow \infty} \sin(r') = \frac{e^{ir'}-e^{-ir'}}{2i}

where r' = kr-l\pi/2 and \hat{j}_l is the Riccati-Bessel function. The free wave function is

\displaystyle \phi_k(r)=e^{i\vec{k}\cdot\vec{r}}=\sum\limits_{l=0} P_l(\cos(\theta)) \frac{2l+1}{2ikr}i^l (e^{ir'}-e^{-ir'})

where P_l(x) is the Legendre polynomial.

Note that, if we have Coulomb potential, we need to use the Coulomb wave instead of free wave, because the range of coulomb force is infinity.

For U\neq 0, the solution of u_l(r<R) can be found by Runge-Kutta method, where R is a sufficiency large that the potential V is effectively equal to 0.  The solution of u_l(r>R) is shifted

\displaystyle u_{l}(k,r>R)=\hat{j}_l(\rho)+\beta_l \hat{n}_l(\rho) \xrightarrow{r\rightarrow \infty} \frac{1}{2i}(S_l e^{ir'}-e^{-ir'})

where S_l is the scattering matrix element, it is obtained by solving the boundary condition at r = R. The scattered wave function is

\displaystyle \psi_k(r)=\sum\limits_{l=0} P_l(\cos(\theta)) (2l+1) i^l \frac{u_l(r)}{kr}

put the scattered wave function and the free wave function back to the seeking solution, we have the f(\theta)

 \displaystyle f(\theta) = \sum\limits_{l=0} P_l(\cos(\theta)) \frac{2l+1}{2ik} (S_l - 1)

and the differential cross section

\displaystyle \frac{d\sigma}{d\Omega}=|f(\theta)|^2.

In this very brief introduction, we can see

  • How the scattering matrix S_l is obtained
  • How the scattering amplitude f(\theta) relates to the scattering matrix

But what is scattering matrix? Although the page did not explained very well, especially how to use it.